Subverted Selfies - Self Portrait
Pollita Mijao (www.zenfortheapocalypse.co.uk / www.vegananarchistgirls.co.uk) is a multi-media artist and poet who works mainly in painting, printmaking, video, performance and installations.
Drawing on her history of involvement in the London underground punk scene, squatting and political activism, her work looks at the anthropocentrism of visual culture; merging her interests in the philosophy of objects, anthropology and pre-theistic animist beliefs with visions of a not-too-distant dystopian future.
Rather than focussing on any one medium, Pollita sees her work as a sort of theatrical set design – creating backdrops or environments for her various performance characters to exist within. Much of her visual work exists in conversation with her written work and poetry, and has found a natural home in video art.
The ethos of DIY culture is the central tenet to all the works she creates. The driving ideology being that all making is equal – therefor all parts of the works should be afforded the same respect and time by its creator. From the punk scene, she has brought into her practice a joy of theatrics, showmanship and love of all things carnivalesque and grotesque
Pollita has exhibited and performed at various underground and squatted art exhibitions over the years, including the TAA. She exhibited a selection of ‘anti-speciesist’ artworks at the Liberation Arts Festival held at The Paintworks in Bristol 2019. She has performed as a spoken word artist and published written work under the pen name of The Horny Handed Daughter of Toil.
The ‘Glitch Series’ is a collection of works that examines ego, identity, and the limitations of our anthropocentric visual language, which has yet to disentangle itself from the hegemonic belief structures of the enlightenment.
Part of this series was a collection of ‘Subverted Selfies’ rendered in various mediums. This series spans a period of time that has seen me pre-lock-down living in an entirely new city whilst studying in Prague, and then returning as the sole passenger on the last flight to the UK, just before we entered a full lock-down here. These various types of isolation have moulded and shaped the Glitch Series as it has progressed.
Initially I had been interested in the fluidity of our concept of ‘self’. After a summer working as a bin lorry driver, I returned to feel like I was constantly slipping into vast chasms between disparate worlds. What solid ‘ME’ was unifying all these existences – if any? Who am I as an artist? Who am I as part of a community? Who am I as a lorry driver or as a performer? Are they all the same person? To quote Claude Cahun: “Under this mask, another mask. I will never be finished removing all these faces.”
Identity and the ownership of one’s image is an interesting concept in the age of the selfie. This age seems to have endless demands on our identities. To conceal or obscure ones face can be an act of defiance in an age of facial recognition, data mining and surveillance. But it can also be seen as an admittance of guilt or a sinister act. How does this question of privacy interact with the traditional idea of the self-portrait?
Rather than seeking to find any true vision of myself, the glitch self-portrait is the error, the transience, the parts that don’t belong. It is no version of reality as reality only exists on its own terms anyway. So much of what we believe to be the natural order of matter or to be indisputable laws of being, are actually just projections cast by the flimsy shadow puppets of our own human egos. The rules are just as subjective as language, semiotics or culture. We hold so much trust in this shaky foundation, even as it creaks beneath the ever increasing weight of our blind faith.
Of course the human ego places us as centre players on the stage of creation – our natural pareidolia and desire to see ourselves reflected and recognised in our surroundings is inescapable. So, the Anti-Sublime is a playful prod at those sensibilities; it is a wiping out and redacting of that which we hold most sacred: the importance of self! The Anti-Sublime is the joy of being nothing!